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Carmel Catholic High School

Performing Arts and Information Commons

Mundelein, IL

Completed 2014



The living quarters of an abandoned Carmelite monastery were extensively rehabilitated to transform into a cutting-edge
Performing and Fine Arts Center. Two stories of bedroom “cells” were gutted to capture double height spaces for a featured black box theatre supported by adjacent choral and ensemble rooms. These performance and practice spaces each contained balconies accessed by internal stairways leading above private practice studios and into large storage rooms housing instruments, props, and costumes. A separate media lab provides for student editing of filmed performances that can be transmitted from a new broadcast studio. What could have been a problematic existing grade change, became an opportunity to introduce dance curriculum in a nearly two story dance studio. The single-story communal spaces of the monastery became a ceramic classroom supported by kiln and glazing rooms next to studios for painting and sketching. Even a traditional dark room was inserted within an existing storage room and the intersection of two major corridors was sculpted to create a serpentine gallery to display student work.


Beyond the monastery's new link to the existing school, a second project renovated and expanded the old library into a new Information Commons. Referencing the technology savvy and comfort focused centers now found on most university campuses, this renewal included team break-out rooms for reservation, a graphics lab, an indoor amphitheater and garden, and both “Borders” and “Starbuck” like study spaces. A new outdoor patio accented by seating surrounding a storm water supplied fountain permits students to take their work outdoors on welcoming days.

These facilities are wonderful examples of adaptive use of decaying construction. Besides leveraging the cost benefits of existing materials, the spaces inherited extensive daylight from windows that once served multi-level buildings and whose benefit might have been cost prohibitive if specified new.

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